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Spring is brunch time!

Spring is Brunch time! There is something about the little extra bit of sunshine, the warmer weather and those first blossoms of color that makes me want to sit and lazily enjoy what sunshine we might receive. Brunch can be an excellent way to gather a larger group for a meal that can be a lot less stressful, on both budget and time. Whether dining out at a restaurant or on your back deck, Brunch is one of my favorite ways to dine.

Call me old fashioned, but one of my favorite brunch dishes is a Classic Eggs Benedict. This is something I love to make for company because with proper preparation and a little practice, it can truly be a show stopper of a dish. That said I almost enjoy it even more when someone else makes it for me. I was reminded of this when recently I had brunch at Urbane at Olive 8.

Of course I ordered the Benedict, and it was sublime. The eggs perfectly poached, the ham was superior quality and the Hollandaise was perfect. Executive Chef Brian Pusztai has assembled a team of fantastic chefs that sets this restaurant above and beyond your average hotel restaurant. Chef Pusztai treats his restaurant like it was a small Farm-to-table bistro. Pusztai works with farmers across the Pacific Northwest who are dedicated to sustainable growing and bringing the best product to market. He says, “Good food depends on good ingredients.” I feel like Urbane is one of the best kept secrets in town.

At Urbane I had a Mimosa with Bene’s, always a favorite if you were throwing a party you could easily serve them by the pitcher. The Classic is just equal parts Orange juice and Sparkling wine, I like to use a good quality Cava like Dibon.  DIBON CAVA NV $8.99 “This is a light-framed Cava with a clean, fast, tasty profile and finish. Light apple aromas are elegant and not over the top, while the tangerine and orange flavors are lean and focused. Not yeasty or heavy at all. Made from organically grown grapes.”

My go to Sparkling wine for any party is Treveri Blanc de Blancs Brut Columbia Valley $12.99.

Made in the traditional method using only Chardonnay grapes this sparkling is hard to beat. Bright and stylish, this lively wine offers toasty, floral pear and spice flavors on a refined frame, lingering nicely on the mouthwatering finish. This everything one could want in a sparkling wine.  Quality good enough to be served at the White House; at price ‘we the people’ can afford.

Treveri Cellars is a family-owned and operated sparkling wine house that produces some of the finest handcrafted sparkling wines in the United States. A relative newcomer to the Washington wine scene, (2010) Treveri has already made its mark on the world stage being served at White House State Department receptions and the James Beard Foundation in New York. Quickly they rose to the attention of sommeliers, aficionados and the press being voted one of the nation’s Top Ten Hottest Brands of 2014 by Wine Business Monthly. But this is no flash in the pan.

Juergen Grieb founded Treveri Cellars in 2010 after 3 decades of experience of winemaking in Washington State.  Juergen was born and raised in Trier, Germany, where he received his formal winemaking and sparkling winemaking degrees. After earning his formal degrees and finishing his apprenticeships in Germany, Juergen came to Washington State in 1982.

Juergen’s passion and enthusiasm is contagious, infecting everyone he meets and even his own son Christian. Christian partnered with his father in 2010 after receiving Business degree from Seattle University to start Treveri. Treveri is a family affair with Juergen and Christian being joined by Julie Grieb and Katie Grieb.

Treveri produces a wide variety of styles at their facility in Wapato, including non-traditional varieties such as sparkling Syrah, Riesling and Mueller-Thurgau.

Download Lenny’s Eggs Benedict and Hollandaise recipe and ingredients!

Read Lenny’s Write Up on Seattle Dining 

 

Tuna and Prosecco: A Delightful Lunch

Tuna and Prosecco
I’ve always been a big fan of Prosecco, the charming and thirst-slaking Italian sparkling wine, for festive and casual bubbles imbibing. At a recent lunch at Serafina, I was reminded what a great food wine it is as well. Prosecco belongs on your lunch (and dinner) table!

The Proseccos we enjoyed were from Valdo, a shop favorite. Their Brut DOC is a machine here at Esquin. The staff loves it and so do our customers. They also make an excellent Rosé Brut, though don’t call it Prosecco! The Italian wine laws in the region have recently changed to protect the good name of true Prosecco; it has to be made from the Glera grape and in a specific geographic area. The Rosé is made from the Nerello Mascalese grape (surely you’ve heard of it) and is a joy to drink. Ultra-fun! It was perfection with the Calamari, especially with the touch of chile flake giving a little heat. (The Brut DOC was no slouch with it, either. I was alternating back and forth between the two.)

Calamari

Most unexpectedly, the Prosecco even worked with a sweet pea and ricotta ravioli (with taragon butter and sauteed pea vines, to boot) The sweetness of the peas was a nice match with the DOC Brut, which has a whisper of sweetness.

Sweet Pea and Ricotta Ravioli

But my favorite pairing was with the tuna at the top of the post. I devoured it with two special Proseccos from Valdo: The “Cuvee di Boj” and “Cuvee Fondatore”. Both have DOCG status, which denotes the highest quality in the Prosecco region. These Proseccos were drier, more elegant, and most harmonious with the tuna and its melted leeks, fingerling potatoes, and frisee salad with a basil-grapefruit vinaigrette.

It was a wonderful lunch made even more wonderful by convivial dining companions and and special guest Dr. Pierluigi Bolla, the President of Valdo. Hard to think of a more personable and genuine ambassador for the region and the wines. Bravo!

Full disclosure: I was a guest of the importer and distributor who provided the food and wine.

Chandon: Sparkling in Australia

Chandon View
I love bubbles. Champagne, Cremant, Prosecco? Bring it on. I purposefully strode through the (automatic) doors at Chandon’s outpost in the Yarra Valley of Australia, ready for something sparkling. The full lineup of bubbles had nary a disappointment. (To my eternal surprise, I even enjoyed the Pinot/Shiraz, which is Thanksgiving-worthy. Is is wrong to be thinking about Turkey Day pairings in March? In Australia?)

Zero Dosage

The 2006 “Z*D” (Zero Dosage) Blanc de Blancs was the star of the show for me. Most sparkling wines made in the traditional or Champagne method have a bit of a sweet liqueur (dosage) added to them just before corking that tames its acidity. The Z*D is devoid of this so it is super-dry. (I wish I could find and cite the page that described zero dosage as “ferociously” dry. Love that.) This 100% Chardonnay sparkler just screams for oysters or (at least) a seat in one of the green chairs on the patio at the top of this post.

One other thing I like about the Z*D is that it’s sealed with a crown cap rather than a cork and cage. It’s distinctive and unusual:

Crown Cap

Before leaving I had to indulge in an ubiquitous “I Was Here” photo:

"I Was Here" Photo

If you need to find me, I’ll be under this tree, with a bottle of Z*D, watching the clouds blow off as the day turns sunny and sparkling.

View

Prosecco: Freshness Matters!

Freshness matters!
Sometimes you can learn a lot about a wine from a back label. Let’s take the Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Crede for instance. This single-vineyard gem is not only thirst-slaking, palate-cleansing, and party-starting, but the good folks at Bisol are kind enough to let you know the vintage of the bottle in your hand. Even better, you can tell when it was bottled by deciphering the lot number. No Rosetta stone necessary: L10082 means it was bottled on the 82nd day of 2010. With most Proseccos, and sparkling wines in general, there is no way to discern freshness based on what you see on the label. (And here is where I must say that we sell oceans of bubbles at Esquin; nothing that we love sits around for any extended period of time.)

This is a practice I would like to see more sparkling wine producers undertake, beyond their vintage-dated offerings. For non-vintage wines that do not go through a secondary fermentation in the bottle, why not stamp the date it was bottled on the back label? If it’s good enough for Budweiser, it’s good enough for all your quality sparkling wines that peak in their youth.

Demand freshness!

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Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Crede: $20

Label Lust: Hugo Sparkling Rosé

The Hugo

I’m not above admitting that a flashy wine label gets my attention; I appreciate some thought, graphic design, and artistry wrapped around a bottle. It’s nice to have a little sizzle on the outside and deliciousness on the inside, no?

The Weingut Markus Huber “Hugo” Rosé Sparkling (or Sparkling Rosé?) is a true delight. These pink bubbles from Austria are a blend of Zweigelt (a traditional Austrian red grape that I have previously noted a fondness for) and Pinot Noir. I first had a glass of the Hugo at my new favorite restaurant, La Bête, and was charmed by its freshness, elegance, and style. With two of my wine industry brethren in tow, we naturally had to order a bottle. The only thing more clever, playful, and fun than the label of this great bottle of pink bubbles was this trio of dudes at La Bête. We held court at the bar, ate delicious food, gabbed with fellow patrons, and create more than one inside joke. Drinking bubbles just makes everything that much better.

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